Emerging and Foreign Disease Observation

Recognize Your "BUDDIES"

BUDDIES are clinical signs that are unusual or are occurring at unusual frequency in animals and may indicate serious disease or occurrence of an emerging or foreign animal disease.

Why are BUDDIES Important?

Image of a farmer observing a dairy cowUnfamiliar behaviors and/or unusual numbers of ill or dead stock may indicate a serious disease or other issue. Being familiar with what is normal and what is not in your herd will help you know when to call a veterinarian.

Calling a veterinarian right away can help prevent more serious problems. If a disease or contamination issue goes undetected or unreported, many more animals or people may be sickened or harmed.

All individuals working on a farm should be trained to recognize BUDDIES. If any of these signs are observed, farm staff should know who to contact immediately. Designate either an employee or the farm owner to be the "reporter" to assess the situation and then call a veterinarian.

Having emergency contact information for employees and their families, owners, and emergency responders where they can be easily accessed even if working on part of the farm away from the main facility is important.

If there is any concern about the safety of the food supply, the appropriate state authorities should be called immediately. If in doubt and the regular veterinarian is not available, contact the state veterinarian's office.

Also, have fields named and marked so that emergency responders can easily locate them.

BUDDIES Clinical Signs of Disease


Blisters or vesicles around the mouth, teats or hooves. You might see the following signs, especially in cattle:

  • Excessive drooling or salivation.
  • Avoiding eating.
  • Reluctance to stand or walk.
  • Lameness.
  • Temperamental while being milked.
  • Licking or kicking at specific area on body.

These signs are not specific to “vesicular” diseases. A veterinarian should be called to make a diagnosis.

Unusual ticks or maggots (fly larvae). You might see the following signs, especially in cattle:

  • Excessive licking, rubbing, or tail twitching.
  • Fur clumping.
  • Unusual ticks or maggots in the skin.

In severe cases, you might see:

  • Fever.
  • Rapid loss in body condition.
  • Skin inflammation.
  • Membranes around eyes turn bright red but change pale white after a few days (sign of acute anemia).

Cattle on pasture are more likely to come into contact with ticks. Ticks may drop off before signs of illness develop. A veterinarian should be called to identify unusual ticks or maggots that are present or run tests if prior tick bites are suspected.

Deaths or Downers, especially an unusually high number of dead or non-ambulatory animals. You might see the following signs, especially in cattle:

  • High number of deaths in a particular time period.
  • Deaths of unknown causes.
  • Cattle unable to rise (downers) A veterinarian should be consulted to determine the cause.

Diarrhea, particularly an unusually high frequency of diarrhea or scours. You might see the following signs, especially in cattle:

  • Depressed attitude or weakness.
  • Watery stools that are brown, gray or yellow in color; can be bloody.
  • Dehydration.
  • Loss of body condition.

Diarrhea or scours have many potential causes such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. Work with your veterinarian to determine what the causes are on your farm.

Illness, especially unusually high number of sick animals or abortions. Being familiar with what is normal and what is not in your herd will help you know when to call a veterinarian.

Think about whether there have been any changes to or problems with the following:

  • Pasture (presence of toxic plants or discarded equipment).
  • Feed (new load or supplier).
  • Employees (any showing signs of illness).
  • Water source (change in well or treatment system function).
  • Security or biosecurity (pesticides and chemicals secure, non-routine visitors)

A veterinarian should be consulted to determine if additional tests are necessary.

Eating abnormally, particularly loss of appetite, drooling or difficulty swallowing. You might see the following signs:

  • Decreased milk production.
  • Undisturbed feed (if housed or fed individually).
  • Kicking at stomach.
  • Humped back.
  • Blisters in mouth.
  • Unusual behavior or temperature.

Be aware that rabies in animals can mimic many other diseases. Call a veterinarian to investigate.

Staggering or signs of abnormal brain or nerve function, including spasms or seizures. You might see the following signs:

  • Behavioral changes.
  • Circling.
  • Excessive head pressing.
  • Signs of blindness.
  • Head tilting.

A veterinarian should be consulted if any neurological signs are observed.


Diagnostics

Diagnostics are used when an animal shows unusual signs of illness or behaviors.